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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My 2015 New Year’s Resolution: No More Paper Towels!

It’s January, which means it’s time to set a resolution! As you know, I like to choose a resolution each year that is related making a change in the kitchen that has a positive environmental impact.

my 2015 new year's more paper towels!

A few weeks ago I went to a party at my neighbor’s house. I accidentally spilled a drink and immediately called out, “Where are the paper towels?” Kat then handed me a stack of cloth towels. Because, apparently, real-live cloth towels dry things, too. Who knew? Okay, I knew. But for some reason I kind of ignore that fact a lot.

I use too many paper towels, both for cleaning the house and for day-to-day use in the kitchen. That simple experience at Kat’s house made me realize how dumb it is that I so often default to the disposable solution when I need a towel, even after my efforts to reduce plastic, paper napkins and the like in past years. I was talking about this with Nate’s mom last week and she said that she only buys paper towels when we’re in town. Geesh. It is seriously time that I tackle this ridiculous addiction once and for all!

So, 2015 is the year! No more paper towels! We’ll use up the paper towels we have left and then, after that, I’m not allowing myself to buy any more. As my paper towel supply begins to dwindle, I will be stocking up on cloth towels of all kinds. If you have suggestions for towels you like, both for the kitchen and for cleaning in general, please share!

On a related note, I love our cloth napkins and we use them quite frequently, but I will admit to grabbing paper towels when I’m feeling too lazy to walk across the room to the napkin drawer. All of this is changing this year! Go Team! You Can Do It!

So, who’s with me? Let’s cut the paper towel cord together! I need the moral support. 😉


  1. 1

    So, I’ve been thinking about this too. But with 3 kids 5 and under, we have daily spills and lots of food art on the kitchen table. None of our towels seems absorbent enough, and the increased laundry load makes it seem silly too. It would be nice if one of your readers could solve all my problems for me. Takers?

    • where’s my magic wand? poof! problems solved! 😉 I have to say – I thought the cloth napkins would be annoying for laundry but it hasn’t increased the load amount at all…maybe towels will be a bit more, but I wouldn’t be too scared of the laundry aspect. as for the 3 kids under 5…maybe just wait a few years so you stay sane 😉

  2. my 93 year old grandpa loves shopping at costco and buys paper towels for the whole family. i’ve been married almost 6 years and have never bought paper towels. no joke. we have so many but i make them last by keeping the roll under the sink. one more step to get to it means the sponge gets used more as do the two towels always hanging in my kitchen (on a hook by the sink and on the oven). i personally like target’s selection of kitchen towels. they have a floursack style that comes in fun prints and gets softer as it gets washed, and also multipacks of more absorbent ones. what i don’t like? those washcloth size rags that are textured for scrubbing. they do not work well for cleaning at all! i think this year i am going to try to not buy paper napkins anymore. i have tons of inherited cloth napkins from both grandmas so i should just use them no matter what!

    • that is hilarious that grandpa loves buying everyone’s paper towels – haha! love it!

      I think quick access is key to what we end up using most in the kitchen. my plan is to copy my neighbor – she literally just has a stack of clean cloths sitting on the counter. while we still have paper towels to use up and as I try out towels, I think I’ll keep the paper towel roll in the garage, making it that much less easy to get to them!

      I love floursack towels – didn’t know target ha them – thank you!

      once you stop buying paper napkins it’s so easy not to use them, especially since you already have a stash! good luck!!!

  3. 3

    Sorry Jane – I do use many fewer paper towels than I used to BUT I can’t (read won’t) cut the cord on this one….

    Good luck – I’ll be watching to see how it goes for you….


  4. Oh my gosh me too, I start this next week, using the last of my paper towels. I will still keep some on hand for pet cleanups that I would never ever want to use cloth for but plan on cloth for everything else.

    I use wash clothes and buy those burp cloths that you can get in the baby section. Also prefolds that are used for cloth diapers are wonderful also. Good Luck to you guys!

  5. 5
    Erica Zamora

    Awesome!! It is totally possible to live without them! In fact, I’m more than a little obsessed with all of our cleaning towels now. My husband wants to recycle lots of my favorites because they are so ratty looking, but the ratty ones work the best! This last year we made the switchover to cloth napkins, too. I have a big basket full in all sorts of wild patterns, and we just don’t buy paper ones anymore – and we never run out! Happy New Year!

  6. 6
    Shellie Torstensson

    I will tell you guys what to use!! I use something called a Skoy Cloth – one cloth outlasts 15 rolls of paper towels. They come in great colors and cool designs. Check them out or on Amazon. I think they cost $6.99 for a 4-pack. I have a 5 year old and a dog – I put them to good use!!! 🙂

  7. 7
    Sara B.

    I did this abaout 5 years ago. My husband still buys one roll a year for checking the oil in the car. I have no idea why this “requires” paper towels, buthe insists. Napkins left that year too! I can’t get past the ick factor of getting rid of toilet paper, although I laundered dirty diapers for years! (Some people do this with cut up t-shirt squares!)
    I bought these uniformly sizes towels that I wrap onto the paper towel holder, and secure with a hair tie band.
    She has many color choices and they wash up nicely. I use them for everything, even draining bacon slices. Good luck! I hope this catches on!

    • I can’t even imagine getting rid of toilet paper – that would be so hard!

      thanks for that link!

      and, again, love hearing that others were successful at this – makes me feel like it’s totally possible!

    • carolina

      Just for kicks – I challenge you to give up toilet paper for next year’s resolution!! Muwahahahaha… (evil laughter) 🙂

      (there is no way i could do it, so i truly am just teasing you) 😉

  8. You can do it! We cut paper products 5 years ago and it’s honestly not any harder if you’re already using cloth napkins. We buy our kitchen towels at Ikea in big packs in the kitchen department. That way they are cheap enough that I don’t care if they get stained. We still have some from that first pack, they last and work. And we have three kids, so I know a thing or two about stains 🙂

  9. 9
    laura in San Diego

    I went paper towel and paper napkin -less about 8 or so years ago. My girls are 5 and 8 and that’s one of their chores …folding clean dish towels and napkins for the kitchen. We never miss the paper!

  10. 10

    I get too grossed out by the thought of cleaning the bathroom (toilet bowl rim, tank, etc) with non-disposable towels. Any way around this?

    • Christine

      I just use a sponge and a toilet bowl brush that is dedicated to bathroom cleaning.

    • I think christine is one to something…and wash in super hot water when you’re done. you could even microwave the sponge to kill any bugs. my hot water heater is really hot so I always run the toilet brush under that when I’m done cleaning.

      you could always just use paper towels only in the bathroom, but I think using non-disposable items can be done in a non gross way for sure! for sure whatever you scrub the tub/shower/floor/sink/mirrors with won’t be very gross. maybe just save paper towels just for the toilet? just thinking out loud in a really un-organized way… 😉

  11. I’m pretty sure I’m on the same pack of paper towels that I bought over three years ago (and I bought them at Kroger, not a bulk store). I use my kitchen towels for just about everything except when it comes to meat or cleaning windows/mirrors. Whatever you do, don’t get microfiber towels. I bought some because they sounded cool… nope… just non-absorbent. I usually get mine from Marshalls, but I don’t know what towel “type” they are. Good luck!

  12. 12

    I use old baby blankets like the thin ones you get from the hospital and old t shirts , cut up and it makes the perfect cleaning rag.

  13. 13

    Why didn’t I think of this? We stopped using paper napkins probably about a year ago and use the cloth wipes I used on my babies for that.

  14. 14

    Hi Jane,
    I like the idea. I’ve seen ‘unpaper’ towels around the web before. They are cloth towels that have snaps and are still stored on the paper towel dispenser. Below is a link to some I found on etsy. I like the idea of still having them accessible on the counter for some reason. Good luck!

  15. 15

    Hi – I stumbled across this article and it sparked good ideas for me at home. Upon research of another reader’s suggestion for Skoy cloth, I found Europe’s popular option: Wettex. Sold on Amazon in packs of 12 for $8 + shipping. This seemed to be a better value, so I ordered a couple packs for $22 all in. FYI: shipping is same if you buy one or two. Crossing fingers it is a hit at home and we can significantly reduce paper towel habit at home.

  16. I’m trying to go “Zero waste” and one of the steps is to try reusing instead of throwing away. You gave me a great idea with your post! Thank you for sharing!

    Best regards! Southfield Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  17. 17

    I love frugal posts!

  18. Why using paper towels anyway! This is really selfish! Nice post! Thumbs up!

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